It hasn’t even been a month since the premiere event for our film, “Dizzy Fingers: the Life of Joe Soprani,” yet in some ways I’m still recovering. It was a magical night for me. I’ve never sold anything out before, and this show sold out days beforehand. They were turning people away at the door, and I had the house manager getting irritated with me for trying to get just a few extra people in. These are good problems to have.
Joe and the band sounded great. He was just beaming up there, leading the guys through a varied and interesting program that brought the audience with him from the first to the last note.
And people seemed to really enjoy the documentary (check out a nice review here). It was so rewarding to make this film, and certainly Joe deserved the spotlight and for his stories to be shared. It’s been a really incredible journey with him – I never thought that making this film would take me on a year long trip that included a visit to Bon Jovi’s house, an interview on NPR, and hosting a sold out show at one of my favorite venues in Philly.
I’m getting a lot of friends asking, “what next?” Well, we’re sending the film around to the festival circuit now. We’ll see how it does with that, since festival screenings can often lead to some really great connections and other opportunities. I’ll also be pursuing broadcast outlets for the documentary, since it seems like the sort of thing that public television and other stations with arts-centric programming might pick up.
We’ll also be taking Dizzy Fingers “on the road.” This past Sunday, I was invited to speak at the American Accordion Association’s meeting up in North Jersey. I talked about making the documentary, and we screened the film. I’ll be doing more appearances like this, and some will include Joe speaking and playing, and for even bigger venues, we’ll bring the band.
Until then, we’ve cut together a trailer for the film and excerpts from Joe’s performance at World Cafe Live. Check them out below.
I first met Lee Smith back in November, as we were the first two people to show up to the studio for the Symphony in Bossa sessions (more on that soon). Of course, I knew about Lee Smith. He’s played with so many great musicians, and has been a mainstay in the Philly Jazz Scene for a long time. Plus, his son also happens to be a killer player.
Lee recently contacted me about doing some work together, particularly about producing an EPK. I really like the format of the EPK – it gives you a lot of info about an artist in a short and easily digestible time frame. Plus, it gave me a chance to sit down with Lee and talk about different aspects of his life and thoughts on music. I really enjoyed producing this piece for him, and hope to work with him again soon.
Joe and I were interviewed on WHYY’s Radio Times yesterday with Marty Moss-Coane. They gave us a full hour, which I thought was terribly long, but it actually went very quickly. The audio is embedded below for anyone who didn’t hear it live. I was so happy to be there with Joe, sharing his stories. And I’m getting even more excited for the premiere.
It’s been a pretty surreal week. Aside from the interview, I’ve been working at Rob Hyman’s studio for last few days, assisting with sessions for Mutlu. And today, I hit the road for a few days with Wonder & Fury. I’m feeling very thankful and fortunate.
I recently cut together this video from Dylan Taylor’s CD release party. The event was held at the Painted Bride, which I think is one of the best rooms in the city. Not only that, but it has a very cool, funky vibe, which I thought was the perfect match for Dylan’s musical aesthetic. The lineup was outstanding, which featured nearly everyone who played on the album, including the great Larry Coryell. A last minute add-on was John Swana on EVI/valve trombone, which was such a treat.
I was mixing the show, but also jumped on stage to play Coryell’s “Low-Lee-Tah,” since Dylan switched over to play electric cello on that tune. I haven’t been that nervous on stage in quite a while – the caliber of players was quite intimidating for me. But it was an incredible experience.
The night was a success, and I’m so proud of Dylan for releasing this record. We’ve been working together for about 2 years now, and he is an excellent artist to collaborate with. He’s always very gracious, has good vision, but knows when to lean on me when he’s not sure of something. We also worked on the soundtrack for a foreign film that was premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival last fall, and I’m excited to see what new projects he has in mind. But for now, I’m still enjoying “Sweeter for the Struggle.”
P.S. Huge thanks to Tom Emmi for filming the concert. You may know his work as producer of the Studio Jams series.
Here’s another attempt at getting my website caught up with recent activities. Before the AlyCat tour in October, we decided to shoot another music video. Intended as a companion piece to our last venture, we used nearly the same crew, and went for a similarly quirky vibe. We once again enlisting the talents of puppet master, Jake Bradbury, and, while the plot was conceived by the band, Dom Hilton fleshed out (suctioned out?) the idea, which wouldn’t be complete without movie references (you can spot allusions to Spinal Tap and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). The result is a distorted view on an overbearing lover. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Last summer, my filmmaking partner, Dom Hilton, met a very interesting person while on vacation. So interesting, that he felt that he had to document the man’s life in some small way. With no gear available to him, Dom took a real DIY approach and built a tripod with which to mount his iPhone for filming. He then took the footage home and cut together a micro-documentary about Captain Jerry, a Garifuna fisherman who sleeps on beaches and escapes shark attacks. Dom asked me for some music to drop into the piece, so I whipped up a short bed. For some reason, I was feeling “harps” with the aquatic opening segment.
Captain Jerry from Dom Hilton on Vimeo.
This seemed like an appropriate title for my first post since October. After returning from a killer tour with AlyCat, things got busy. And then the holidays happened, so it was all a wash, as is the case for so many of us. But with a new year upon us, and a snow day forcing me to stay in, I want to try and post some recent activities on here. I will not promise or resolve to do better in 2014, but I will do better for right now.
Last spring, I got a call to work at the Merriam Theater for comedian Aziz Ansari. We would be on the crew filming a comedy special to be released at a later date (my good friend, Matt Martin, was also on crew). I worked as A2, recording the audio from the show, and it was a really great experience (climbing through and hanging off of parts of the Merriam to run cables was something I’d never thought I would do). At the time, the special did not have an outlet. That is, a party to distribute the end product. I believe that Ansari was considering just offering the special direct to fans, since Louis C.K. opened the door for such a system to succeed. But in November, Netflix decided to pick it up, and the hour long stand-up comedy special was premiered.
I’m hitting the road with AlyCat tomorrow. The image below shows where I’ll be, and when. Should be fun!
The later part of the summer really got away from me (at least, as far as maintaining this website is concerned). So, I wanted to take a moment to share a new musical project by the amazing guitarist, Steve Giordano. Earlier this year, Steve and I talked about doing some work together, and he told me about a duo he was working on with vocalist Carla Jenkins. Steve is known for being a jazz guitarist with serious compositional skills and tasteful, yet always impressive, chops. This project is very different for him, as it is quite atmospheric. The music is moody, haunting, and evocative. Shredding it ain’t. To that end, I wanted to create a space to fit the visual appeal of the music, and thought that filming an in-studio performance would really convey the vibe. We setup the studio more like a film, with set design, props, and dramatic lighting. The result is below.